Does Melatonin Help With Cancer Symptoms
Studies of the effect of melatonin supplements on cancer symptoms or treatment-related side effects have been small and have had mixed results.
Keep in mind that unproven products should not be used to replace or delay conventional medical treatment for cancer. Also, some products can interfere with standard cancer treatments or have special risks for people whoâve been diagnosed with cancer. Before using any complementary health approach, including melatonin, people whoâve been diagnosed with cancer should talk with their health care providers to make sure that all aspects of their care work together.
Before Taking This Medicine
Do not use melatonin if you are allergic to it.
Before using this medication, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use this medication if you have certain medical conditions, such as:
- a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia
- taking a blood thinner like warfarin
- high or low blood pressure
- epilepsy or other seizure disorder
- if you are using any medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection
- an autoimmune condition
- using other sedatives or tranquilizers
It is not known whether this medication will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.
High doses of this medicine may affect ovulation, making it difficult for you to get pregnant.
It is not known whether melatonin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
What Are Melatonin Side Effects
Melatonin needs vary from person to person. On average, most people need less than 3 milligrams per night to sleep better. Yet some people take more.
Melatonin is generally safe, but some people are more sensitive to the oral hormone and experience side effects with use. Adverse effects tend to occur with long-term use or when a person takes too much.
Possible side effects of oral melatonin include:
If you experience side effects of oral melatonin, reduce your dosage to see if symptoms improve. Everyones body is different. So while one person may be able to tolerate 3 mg a night, another person may be able to tolerate only 1 mg.
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Melatonin Supplements Are Hormone Therapy
Are you taking melatonin? Then you are using hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is a very complicated topic rife with detrimental health consequences when used carelessly. Often, hormone therapy is the easy answer to hormone imbalance and so the layperson, under the guidance of a practitioner or not, will reach for this answer. One common example of hormone therapy is progesterone cream. Melatonin is another.
The popularity of melatonin greatly worries me because hormone therapy should be approached with due caution, wisdom and knowledge. The practitioners whom I most respect use hormone therapy with the most extreme reservation, always preferring to use diet/lifestyle/supplement changes before using hormone therapy only when necessary as a last resort. Why? More often than not, including the case of melatonin, hormone therapy can do more harm than good.
This is the analogy I use when explaining the potential consequences of hormone therapy:
Most of the hormones in the body are governed by negative feedback, which works like your household thermostat. Say you set your thermostat to 72 degrees and the room temperature is 69 degrees. The heater kicks in to warm the room up. When the temperature reaches 72 degrees, the heat shuts off until the temperature drops again.
Administering hormones can actually shut off our bodys hormonal negative feedback loop. Its like heating a room by a space heater and the furnace shuts off because it isnt needed.
Melatonin Is Not A Sleeping Pill
Thats what Dr. Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, tells patents who inquire about this popular supplement. Like me and many other practitioners who have researched this supplement, Dr. Breus believes melatonin is a bad answer to insomnia.
Dr. Breus, who was featured on the Dr. Oz show to discuss the problems with melatonin, explains,
This is the really important thing you should understand about melatonin: Melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator NOT a sleep initiator. Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep. Melatonin does not increase your sleep drive or need for sleep.
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Who Can Take Melatonin
The following issues can benefit from taking melatonin supplements:
- Jetlag: Travelling across multiple time zones gives you jetlag and disturbs your sleep pattern.
- Shift work sleep disorder: Shift work disorder can be caused by working night shifts, rotating shifts, or even an early morning shift. This leads to sleep deprivation and the inability to fall asleep when you need to.
- Insomnia: Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Delayed sleep phase disorder : You cannot fall asleep fast, so you end up staying awake beyond midnight and find it difficult waking up early in the morning when you need to.
Doctors have also recommended melatonin supplements for the following conditions:
- Sleep disorders and certain developmental and behavioral disorders in children
Is It Bad To Take Melatonin Every Night
If you’re guilty of taking melatonin sleep aid every now and then and you don’t have one of those sleep disorders, you’re probably OK, says Dr. Watson. The National Institutes of Health backs this up too, stating that “short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people.”
Still, melatonin is considered a dietary supplement, so the Food and Drug Administration regulates it less strictly than a prescription or over-the-counter drug. Because of this leniency, your supplement might not contain exactly what the product label states. Case in point: A 2017 study of 31 melatonin supplements found that, in many of the supplements, the actual melatonin content was anywhere from 83 percent lower to 478 percent higher than what was listed on the label.
Problems can also arise if you take a melatonin supplement with too high of a dosage, says Dr. Watson. “Typically, 0.5 milligrams of melatonin should be plenty,” he explains. “Melatonin receptors can get oversaturated pretty quickly, so when you hear people taking 10 milligrams or something, that’s just unnecessary.” Pop a melatonin supplement with more than 1 milligram of the hormone, and you could develop headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, sleepiness, and sleep disruptions, he says. So much for a restful night of zzzs.
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Why Does Meltonin Work
The melatonin long term effects come from its ability as a stress-fighter. When we think of stress, we often think of our emotional reaction, but every stress that we experience- including simply breathing and living- has a corresponding physical response that creates damaging substances called ‘free radicals’ that lead to the damaging effects of ‘oxidation’ and ‘lipid peroxidation’ which cause disease and aging.
Our bodies are CONSTANTLY fighting these processes in order to remain healthy. Aging, in part, is when free radicals tip the balance and begin the slow process of overwhelming the body. Since melatonin is a ‘free radical scavenger’ and an ‘antioxidant’, it fights these processes and can help relieve some of the slow cellular damage that occurs over time. In the process, helping you to sleep can improve markers of stress and improve Adrenal Gland Fatigue as well.
Both managing free radicals and helping you to sleep well contributes to overall Immune System Health which can help you fight off disease more effectively. Most disease is caused, at least in part, by the inflammation and free radical damage that melatonin can help to decrease. So, really melatonin long term effects can mean improvement in MANY markers of disease activity, inflammation and stress.
What The Experts Do
Lower the Light to Prep for Sleep
Johns Hopkins sleep expert Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M., keeps the lights low in the evening to help his mind and body prepare forsleep. But if he has to work in the evening or answer emails, he usesfilters to screen out the blue and green wavelengths of light emitted byhis smartphone and computer. Your brain associates this light withdaytime, and it can interfere with melatonins sleep-promoting effects. Afilter can help. Many types of blue-light filters are available online andin stores.
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How Much Melatonin Is Too Much
Melatonin doses for adults range from 0.5 milligram to 5 milligrams taken about an hour before bedtime.
The recommended appropriate dosage of melatonin for children varies among experts. There is no standardized melatonin dosage chart by age or weight in the United States.
Additionally, there are no set guidelines for what time or how frequently children should take melatonin. Consult your pediatrician to determine what dosage of melatonin and timing is right for your child.
How Much Melatonin Should I Take
Its best to start with the lowest recommended dosage of melatonin for your age. From there, you can gradually increase your dosage until you find a dose that helps you fall asleep without causing any side effects. A safe starting dose for adults is between 0.5 milligram and 5 milligrams of melatonin. Older adults may find lower doses, starting with 0.1 milligram, to be safe and effective. Children should not take melatonin unless recommended by a doctor.
Over-the-counter melatonin may come in standard amounts like 1 milligram, 3 milligrams, or 5 milligrams. You can use a pill-cutter to cut the tablets in half or quarters to create a smaller starting dose.
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When To Talk To Your Doctor About Melatonin
To ensure safe usage, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter sleep aid, including melatonin. They know your personal medical history and can best advise you on the appropriate melatonin dosage for your needs. They will also know whether melatonin might interact with any other medications you may currently be taking.
Certain health conditions and medications may increase your risk of side effects when taking melatonin. If you take any of the following medications, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking melatonin:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Shift workers
The research into melatonins potential benefits and use cases is still evolving, and its long-term effects are still unknown. For many people, melatonin offers mild improvements to sleep problems when used on a short-term basis. For others, it may cause side effects or not impact sleep at all.
If you find your sleep problems persist after trying melatonin, it may be time to talk to a doctor. They can recommend other strategies for improving your sleep, such as better sleep hygiene, changes to diet and exercise, or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. They can also evaluate other possible causes for your sleep problems.
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Understanding Melatonins Role In Your Body
Melatonin is a hormone made naturally in your brain that plays a major role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Its what tells your body Hey, its getting late, time for bed, and alternatively, Hey, the sun is up, time to get up!
Light exposure inhibits the production of melatonin and darkness stimulates it, so melatonin levels in your brain increase as it starts to get dark outside, reaching peak levels in the middle of the night, and then decrease as dawn nears. Its also why you may feel drowsy during a particularly overcast day, or why you may wake up earlier in a room that faces east as the sun drenches the room.
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What Are Melatonin Supplements
The brain normally makes only a very small amount of melatoninaround 0.2 milligrams, Brandon Peters-Mathews, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, tells Health. For some people, that might not be enough to help them get the rest they need. So melatonin supplements, which typically contain higher doses than the amount your body naturally releases, can be useful to treat sleep disorders and insomnia.
Supplemental melatonin allows us to get drowsy and ready for sleep,” says Dr. Malow. “In addition, melatonin can be calming and help us turn our brains off.”
Research backs this up, showing that melatonin can reduce the time it takes for people with delayed sleep phase wake disorder to fall asleep. Another study, published in Journal of Physiology-Paris, found that melatonin might also help reset the bodys sleep-wake cycle. Other small studies suggest that supplementary melatonin can ease anxiety and jet lag.
Melatonin is a prescription medication in Europe, but in the US it qualifies as a dietary supplement, meaning its available over the counter without a prescription at drugstores and health-nutrition retail outlets. Not all brands of melatonin are the same, though, and its important to read the label and make sure you are getting pure melatonin and not melatonin mixed with other substances, warns Dr. Malow.
Unsafe For Child Development
Now imagine that happening to the developing brain of a child. One of the dangers of melatonin that genuinely scares me is its recommendation for childrens sleep. It sounds innocent enough sleep may be hard for a child for a number of reasons. But melatonin is not the answer.
With the irregular amount of hormones in the brain from a few doses of melatonin, the supplement can seriously hurt a childs development during adolescence. In other words, it can cause more sleep problems when the child is older. WebMD even cautions parents to stay away:
Melatonin is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a single dose. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth or injected into the body in multiple doses in the short-term. Because of its effects on other hormones, melatonin might interfere with development during adolescence .
The use of the words might and possibly can be taken as either good or bad. Maybe those words are there in case of a chance situation that it doesnt work out. But we simply dont know much at all about the supplement because of the lack of studies in recent years.
One of the most frustrating parts of natural living is that there isnt very much credible research done on things that people swear by. Most natural living hacks are still considered old wives tales, and people dont take it seriously. While I do believe that a good chunk of it is completely useless, theres some great stuff too.
What Are Benefits And Side Effects Of Melatonin
Melatonin is most effective in treating sleep disorders related to your body clock. It can be used to shift the timing of your sleep. This is best done in conjunction with other treatment under the supervision of a sleep doctor.
Many people use melatonin to self-medicate for insomnia. There is little to no evidence that it works as a sleep aid for this purpose. It is best to see a sleep doctor who will recommend treatment for insomnia.
What Is Melatonin Exactly
Melatonin, aka the “hormone of darkness,” is made by your body in the pineal gland just above the center of the brain. This hormone helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle of your internal clock. Melatonin gets released when the sun goes down,Beth Malow, MD, a professor in the department of neurology and pediatrics and director of the sleep disorders division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells Health.It makes us drowsyabout two hours after melatonin starts getting released, we are ready to go to sleep. In the morning when the sun comes up again , melatonin levels fall, cueing your internal clock that it’s time to wake.
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So Overall Is Melatonin Bad To Take Every Night
Short term, melatonin can help recalibrate your sleep cycles after an interruption such as jet lag. It can also help short term such as when you are losing sleep before a big event, or struggling through a run of a night shift.
But, taking it long term is not advisable because we just dont know what the long term effects will be.
For long-term sleep difficulties, try relying on non-drug therapies and good sleep hygiene where you can. Work with your doctor to address the root cause of sleeplessness.
Beneficial Melatonin Long Term Effects
But aside from the high level of melatonin safety, there may also be good reason to take melatonin on a regular basis as they are more than simply sleep supplements. What most people don’t realize is that melatonin is an antioxidant- and a quite POWERFUL one at that.
In fact, it is so powerful that there have been studies showing Melatonin Benefits survival and markers of ‘oxidative stress’ in hospitalized patients that were SO sick that they were in the intensive care unit for major surgeries, severe burns and life-threatening blood infections. So, if melatonin can help these people’s survival from life-threatening illnesses, it suggests that Melatonin long term effects on oxidative stress could be beneficial for many other conditions. And this seems to be true.
Melatonin studies have been done on MANY MANY problems related to stress- which basically means every disease imaginable. While studies have been limited and not all of these have been the randomized control trials that scientists and doctors consider to be high quality, nevertheless there is a growing body of evidence suggesting the melatonin long term effects could be beneficial. Some of these studies included trials using melatonin for:
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